Halloween in India

As a way to celebrate with our friends back home this year’s Halloween, AND since we are “in the future”, we are sharing ‘our Halloween the India Way.”

I am not a big Halloween person and even though I thought about bringing something to celebrate it, I decided we were just going to miss it and try our best to be OK with it.

But thanks to our friends Chip and Laura and their girls who did the exchange last year here at the same school, they knew what would mean that ‘we’ (Siena and Lucas) would be missing Halloween this year.

They were thinking ahead of time (way ahead than us!) when they sent us a huge box filled (mostly) with candy and Halloween decorations.  Plus few jars of refried beans and peanut butter.

We can’t really thank them enough.  For the beans and food, but also and especially today, for thinking of us back in September and preparing us (with candy and decorations) or this Halloween we were going to miss.  And it was so much fun to have a little bit of home.

And together with these fabulous treats, we have received two Halloween cards and a letter from our friends back home.  Thank Lisa, Kelly and family and Glendie!  It’s been really fun.

At 8:30 pm we got ready to leave our house and go to the Sixth Class House in the Junior’s school.

But we did a stop before that, at Popeye’s house to do a “reverse trick or treat”!

We shared our candy and treats with them.  And talked a little about what is Halloween for us.

So when we arrived at ‘their house’ they were still playing during their free time.

And it’s not only us who want to thank Chip and his family, it’s all the boys in the 6th class at the School too.  As they said when we were handing out the candy and talking about the holiday, I quote “please thank them from all of us too.”

They haven’t met Chip and his family, because they are new students to the school this year, but they were all very thankful and so grateful for us being there sharing tonight with them.

We gave ‘them’ the candy we had — instead of doing the “normal” trick or treating evening.  It was great fun!

Everyone was so fascinated by the fireman and the witch hats and the pumpkin buckets, that we left them for them to use and play.  They were so happy about that as well.

They were all so happy to celebrate something new for most of them.  I feel that after spending a whole week with them in a camp (more on that later this week) we’ve gotten to know them a lot better and them gotten to know us as well.

It was a great week to spend together and today, celebrating Halloween with them, was a fun way to thank them for their friendships and to end the week with them.

Walking home after a Halloween evening, without costumes left, nor a bag or basket filled with candy, but with just one piece of candy in Siena and Lucas’s hands.  But our hearts filled with happiness for having shared a little bit of ‘us’, with our new friends Siena says “this was really fun”.  Good night everyone and Happy Halloween!

PS: OK, you can see the short video we made for Chip and his family of when we received their box over a month ago.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGqxfgN2bkY

The trains

We’ve done four trips on a train so far and we have one more ride ahead of us that we know of.  And we have enjoyed them so much.  I like that we can walk, talk, look outside and not worry about traffic or driving or the drivers and all the honking!  We’ve had more fun than riding in a car here, for sure!

Two of our trips we’ve traveled on Second AC.  It’s a nice set up for us.  Four beds closed by a curtain.  It leaves us enough space for Siena and Lucas to walk around in ‘our space’ and do their games and play around and also we can all sit together and read and listen to the stories.  AND! It has AC! which makes the trip much more comfortable.

A porter carrying someone else’s luggage.  I’m so glad we don’t have to do it again like our first trip from Delhi, when we arrived. Did you see those photos?  But I know the trip when we leave will be very similar in amount of luggage but at least we’ll know what to expect and how to do it.

Traveling is fun!

We started reading Harry Potter.

We can look outside and see new things and landscapes.

Now we know there’s a “Retiring Room” in one of the stations.

I think this is the Chambal River which is a tributary of the Yamuna River, that runs right next to the Taj Mahal.


We get to read and play and enjoy the ride no matter how long the ride is and where we are going.  It’s worth doing it if you come to India, for the experience, but also because i think it is the best way to travel, for sure.

This is my photo but Lucas's button-pusing skills


And also it’s great because when else would you get to knit something, listen to Harry Potter, play with legos, have a snack all while looking at the window all at the same time?

I’m making a hat for Lucas for when we go camping up north in the foothills of the Himalayas at the end of October.  In an AC’d room, feels much better to have wool in my fingers and my lap.  Yet another reason to travel by train!

Jaipur : Camels and Elephants Galore

The first morning in Jaipur  we decide to go for a walk.  It wasn’t even three minutes from the hotel when we saw our first camel.  It wasn’t a ‘tourist camel’ it was a ‘work camel’!  Even more exciting for us.  The camel was pulling a cart full of bags and was waiting for the loading to be finished.

We couldn’t believe our eyes.  Of course we had read and we knew we would see camels in Rajasthan, but really, here we were standing across the street from a camel!

We had seen a few camels before in Agra, when we went to see the Taj Mahal.  Remember that story with lucas? But it is different.  but Lucas still didn’t want to get too close to them.

Later on that same day, we got to see few other camels, all very pretty ‘tourist camels’.

And as we are walking this way, we saw our first elephants too!

This is the first one we saw.

We had never seen an elephant walking on a street!

So our new count for elephants is 126 and 35 camels.  Check out our animal count list on the side bar of this page. Hopefully we’ll see some more soon.

Jaipur : Driving by

We didn’t see all the places we thought we would while in Jaipur.  Some of these places we stopped briefly.  There is so much to see everywhere you look.

Hawa Mahal or Palace of Winds.  Beautiful building built in 1799 in the form of the crown of the Hindu god, Lord Krishna.  Out of red and pink sandstone.

A place like a zoo we hadn’t read about but saw it on our way to somewhere else.

Photo by Lucas

And this post ends the photo tour of Jaipur. Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.


Jaipur : A puppet show

One of the nights in the Hotel, when we arrived from our sightseeing we found a puppet theater and two men getting set up.  So we stayed to watch it.  The show wasn’t very long but it was really fun and nothing like what I had seen before.  I love the music.

This is the introduction of the puppets:


This video is Siena’s favorite dance:


And I think this is ‘my’ favorite dance:

Jaipur : The crafts

I love hand crafts.  All kinds.  From anywhere.  My mom does too. It has something special.  So of course, as we walked through the many stores, big and little streets of India I keep looking.

Usually the ‘real’ crafts are not in obvious places.  Lots of times you need to know someone who knows someone.  We had seen the block printings.  And now Mr. Abdul took us to someone he knew.

The owner and designer was there and we spent few minutes talking of what he’s doing.

Beautiful hand work! Look at these embroidery pieces.

And we also some other stores with other crafts.

Stone carvings.

Block printing.

Painted ceramic.

Painting on silk.

Painting on silk and other materials.

Embroidery work. Always pretty.  I think!

Jaipur : Chokhi Dhani * Rajasthani Village

One evening we went to this Rajasthani Village made for tourists.  It’s about 45 minute-on auto rickshaw away from our hotel.  It’s called Chokhi Dhani.  There were lots of people, but mostly indian families and a couple of groups with children (school trips maybe?)  It was full. Well, for what I’ve seen, most places are ‘full’ here in India.

It was really pretty.  The entrance:

We decided to go eat dinner first.  We were all a little hungry, and I’m glad we decided to go as soon as we got there, because most people eat later here and there was a long wait.

Trying to find the restaurant where we wanted to eat we got lost.  It’s not a huge place, but with lots of turns.  We ended up by the kitchen.  They were telling us it was the wrong way and trying to help us to get in the restaurant, but once I saw where we were, I asked if I could take some pictures. It was the kitchen with open fires where they were making the breads.

We went to have dinner.  You leave your shoes off outside. You wash your hands.

Then they sit you.  They are all long tables with cushions on the floor.  Mark is not someone who can bend his legs and sit criss-cross so he had a harder time, but we all sat together.  We were facing another long table like ours.

Behind us there was a big family reunion or family trip from families from the US.  It looked like there were 3 grandparents and lots of siblings with their families and children.  They were all young children.  I think they were all under 6.  And one couple had twins of about 1 or 1 1/2 year olds (in a double stroller) and a 4 year old. It made me feel better that we were traveling with two older kids… all of a sudden it seemed ‘a lot’ easier!

We tried lots of good food.  Too bad I didn’t get the name of any (that I actually remember) but we tried and ate what we each liked and had a fun time.  I think Lucas and Siena didn’t especially like the buttermilk.

Look at these pretty leaf plates and bowls!

To wash our hands after eating, they poured water from a pretty pitcher on one of a clean leaf bowl, placed on top of our used plates.

We then went to visit the rest of the place.  Danced and played some music with sticks.

Photo by Mark
Photo by Mark
Photo by Mark

Few people taught us how to dance and play these sticks.

Photo by Mark
Photo by Mark

We also saw a magician’s show.

The last act of his show is approaching.  Thinking we were sitting in this stage with the cobra statues in the entrance he’d bring a cobra in that basket he had sitting next to him, I was ready.  I wasn’t too close to the stage but I could still see.  For me, a perfect distance from a snake.  So he does his movements and we are waiting.  He opens the basket (typical I’ve seen where people have their cobras) and there’s a dove!  How relieved I was.  Forget the magic! I felt relieved it wasn’t a snake.

But then I realized it was pretty cool he had “appeared” a dove inside the basket! Now I’m enjoying a little more.  He does more magic moves and I’m stressing out.  I’m thinking, how is he going to get the dove out of the basket and bring the cobra without eating it, right? I have no idea how he does it, but he has THREE doves in the basket now!

He was very good.  Even better because he didn’t have a snake!

We also watched a show of puppets.

And played some games.

There was also a very pretty maze.

I think this is the closest we’ll get to a corn maze this fall!

And Lucas and I rode a cart pulled by a camel.  A short ride and you can feel being pulled by long-legged camels.  The cart moving back and forth with long strides.  Lots of fun.

And I will leave you ’til tomorrow with this dance.

And a short video.



Jaipur : The People

Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan is a beautiful city.  It felt much bigger than Gwalior and somehow less chaotic.  It is a great place to visit and we enjoyed our days there.

All the photos on this post were taken by Mark, except noted.  They are just beautiful and captured some great moments.  Come meet some “Jaipur-ians” (not sure if that’s what they are called.)

Photo by me
Photo by me


Photo by me


Photo by me


Photo by Lucas


Maybe this could be a photo project we’ll do to every new place we visit. I really enjoyed seeing all these faces together in one place.  Beautiful people.  Don’t you think?

Jaipur : Jal Mahal * The Water Palace

On the way to Amber Palace you see the Jal Mahal which means ‘Water Palace’.  The palace made out of sandstone is in the middle of the lake Man Sagar.

We saw that one of the things you do here is throw small pieces of dough to the fish.

As we walked to the edge of the lake there were few women selling dough pieces.  We didn’t know what it was for, so we passed.   As we are looking for birds, the beauty of the palace submerged in the water, a group of men gave Siena and Lucas a hunk of dough.  They were kneading the dough right there.

And most everybody come prepared with the dough for the fish.

You can see a little bit on the wire fence, small white pieces (dough) that get stuck when they are throwing them.

The problem was when we were done.  Lucas doesn’t like to have his hands dirty or sticky so he realized now that he was uncomfortable .  He must have had some funny face or something because next moment he has this girl cleaning his hands off the dough.

No Hindi or English necessary.

And she was so cute I wish I would remember her name.  Thank you little girl!  Lucas felt much better afterwards.